Vitamin C

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What does Vitamin C do?

  • Holds cells together in the body.
  • Helps heal wounds and bruises.
  • Makes gums and teeth healthy.
  • Helps the body resist disease.
  • Helps the body to absorb iron and calcium from foods.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. This means the body can not store it. What the body doesn’t use gets added to your urine.

How much Vitamin C do I need?

  • 1-3 years = 15 milligrams (mg)
  • 4-8 years = 25 mg
  • 9-13 years = 45 mg
  • 14-18 years = 75 mg males, 65 mg females
    • Pregnant = 80 mg
    • Breastfeeding 115 mg
  • 19+ years = 90 mg males, 75 mg females
    • Pregnant = 85 mg
    • Breastfeeding = 120mg

Sources of Vitamin C

Everyone needs at least one high source of vitamin C every day.  Two good sources are equal to one high source. Smokers should increase this amount.

It is best to get your vitamin C from foods. The amount of vitamin C you get from foods depends on how they are prepared, cooked and stored.

  • Preparation: Fruits and vegetables that are peeled or cut in small pieces will lose vitamin C quickly. When possible, serve whole or in large pieces. Or add citrus juice to cover small pieces. This keeps them from turning brown and adds vitamin C.
  • Cooking: Steam or cook for a short time because vitamin C is destroyed by heat and lost in cooking water.
  • Storage: The longer a food is stored, the more vitamin C lost.  Peeled or cut vitamin C foods should be stored in airtight containers. Refrigerate juices in an airtight plastic or glass container.

When choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, choose ones that look fresh and are not wilted.  Buy ones that are in season.

Food Sources of Vitamin C

Have one high or two good sources of vitamin C foods per day.

  • High sources: cantaloupe, grapefruit/grapefruit juice, kiwi, orange/orange juice, strawberries, green pepper, V-8 juice
  • Good Sources: Baked potato with skin, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, honeydew melon, mandarin orange, pineapple/pineapple juice, tangerine, tomato/tomato juice

Or, try these sources and serving sizes to get your daily dose:

  • Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup: 95mg
  • Orange juice, ¾ cup: 93mg
  • Orange, 1 medium: 70mg
  • Kiwi, 1 medium: 64mg
  • Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup: 60mg
  • Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup: 51mg
  • Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cu: 49mg

Canned or packaged fruit drinks or punches such as Kool-Aid®, Hi-C®, Sunny Delight®, Tang®, Hawaiian Punch® and lemonade are not considered part of the vitamin C food group because they are high in sugar and low in other nutrients.  They contain little or no fruit.

Sources: USDA Infant Feeding & Nutrition – A Guide for Use in WIC, National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

This post was last updated on December 8th, 2020 at 4:41 PM

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